Subject: Case Study: Norway and Minke Whaling Info II

Michael Williamson (pita@whale.simmons.edu)
Tue, 7 May 1996 12:13:03 -0400 (EDT)

How do these numbers reflect research data?
How can this be?
Do you think that the data (on either side) is accurate?
How do you decide whose data is most accurate?
What factors might influence the data representation?


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 6 May 1996 18:04:00 EST
From: Phil Clapham <CLAPHAM.PHIL@SIMNH.SI.EDU>
To: Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Subject: Whaling

I just read the MARMAM posting on Norway's intention to increase its
minke whale quota from last year by a fairly substantial amount; this
based upon a new estimate of abundance of between "110,000 and 120,000"
animals, compared to last year's (corrected) figure of 76,000.

Perhaps my mathematical ability is in error (it certainly has been
before), but the implications of this are rather interesting.  Going
from 76,000 to 115,000 (the midpoint of the new estimate) is
an increase of about 51%.  There are only two explanations for this
that I can see:

  1) The population has increased by 51% - impossible, since this
     would require mature females to make up most of the population
     and to all be pregnant.
  2) The technique used to estimate abundance is such that it
     produces results that swing wildly over large ranges, and is
     thus fundamentally unsound.

  I suppose one could argue that the techniques have improved dramat-
ically since last year, but I rather doubt that this is the case.

  Can anyone comment on what's wrong with the above logic?

  Phil Clapham
  clapham@simnh.si.edu